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It has been announced that the City of Chicago, in coordination with the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT) has issued the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for respondents to present their qualifications to design, build, finance, operate and maintain an express train system from O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to downtown Chicago through a public-private agreement with the City.
Issued on November 29th, the RFQ is the next step to creating a fast and convenient travel option for travelers to travel directly from the airport to downtown Chicago, following analysis from a working group formed last year to determine the feasibility of such a project.
The RFQ specifies that the O’Hare Express Service should include a downtown station, an ORD station and one maintenance facility. The City and CIT will consider potential corridors that are above or below surface level.
The cost of the project is unknown, although the Chicago Tribune reported that industry source familiar with the planning said it could run between US$1 billion and $3 billion. The RFQ stipulates that the O’Hare Express Service will be funded solely by project-specific revenues (like fares or advertising) and financed entirely by the concessionaire. There will be no taxpayer funding for the project.
The City and CIT intend to select one or more respondents that they consider most qualified to successfully respond to a subsequent Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued by the City and the CIT. RFQ responses are due on January 24, 2018. See our Business Opportunities section for more information.
The project aims to deliver an express service that would take 20 minutes or less to travel from downtown Chicago to ORD, cutting more than 50% off current travel times.
The express service stands to offer a myriad of benefits to the City, travelers, and residents: providing a faster commute from the airport to downtown and vice versa; helping to mitigate congestion on the region’s roadways; and fostering economic growth and creating jobs throughout the lifetime of the project. The current total daily number or air passengers traveling between ORD and the Chicago Central Business District is approximately 20,000 and is forecast to grow to at least 35,000 daily air passengers in 2045.
Mayor Emanuel, commented on the matter:
“Express service to and from O’Hare will give Chicagoans and visitors to our great city more options, faster travel times, and build on Chicago’s competitive advantage as a global hub of tourism, transportation and trade.”
“More than a century ago, Daniel Burnham encouraged Chicago to ‘make no little plans,’ and today Chicagoans continue to make big and bold plans with an eye towards the future. Strengthening connections between the economic engines of downtown Chicago and O’Hare airport, at no cost to taxpayers, will build on Chicago’s legacy of innovation and pay dividends for generations to come.”
Chicago Treasurer and CIT Chair, Kurt Summers, added:
“The CIT’s involvement in this transformative project is perfectly suited to our purpose to act as a specialized resource to the City focused on infrastructure financing and development.
"We look forward to reviewing the proposals and continuing to move this important project forward.”